Johnson Hopes to Tackle the 2009 Season

Assuming everyone on the Gator offensive line is healthy you can count on Maurkice and Michael Pouncey and Carl Johnson being in the starting lineup. You just can't be too certain where they'll be. Florida coaches plan to use the fall camp to determine the top five players on the offensive line and will then assign positions accordingly.

Marcus Gilbert is all but set to be the fourth starter at right tackle, but it's the fifth man who will affect everything else. Matt Patchan is trying to claim the left tackle job which would put Johnson at left guard with Maurkice and Michael playing center and right guard respectively. James Wilson is trying to prove he's the fifth best guy which would put him at left guard and Johnson at left tackle. Johnson also gets the left tackle job if Sam Robey earns first team status. Robey could then start at center with the Pouncey brothers on either side of him.

One factor that could change things is the status of Maurkice Pouncey who is still coming back from off-season shoulder surgery. Gator offensive line Coach and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio says Pouncey won't be rushed, but will be full go by opening day.

Johnson admits he wants to play left tackle, but quickly adds that he's all about winning and wherever Coach Addazio tells him to line up that's where he'll be. He also talks about the Gators taking the number one ranking into the 2009 campaign.

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On where he's practicing:

"I'm actually working both tackle and guard. It's kind of up in the air because Maurkice is hurt, so for right now it's 50-50."

On how close to being ready he thinks Maurkice is:

"He's pretty close. They're just being cautious with him because it's early in camp but he's probably 75, 80 percent."

On his preference to play left tackle:

"That's what I want, but our offense is predicated off middle push so if I have to play guard to get us another championship then let's go to Pasadena."

I asked him if he was torn because tackle is a more lucrative position for his future, but not wanting to break up the "big three" in the middle.

"Not really because my goal is for us to get to Atlanta. It's not just to better myself because if we as a team do better than I'll do better individually. So my goal is the team."

On what he's seen from the freshmen on the line:

"Athleticism. Tenacity. Most of these young guys are really good."

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I spoke with Addazio about figuring out where Johnson will be playing:

"Carl's ready to play either spot. I'm not concerned about that. I just want to make sure that the guy that goes in the game in that fifth spot is a reliable, accountable, no mistake guy that plays reckless. We have to do that. However that slices out doesn't make any difference to us. We're going to make sure we have a guy that we can count on. We've got a lot of young guys, and that's always a concern but we love our young guys. That's the difference, you feel really great about them but they are young and they're still mistake prone right now."

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Johnson is listed at 6-5 and 342 pounds but looks to be in better shape than he was in previous seasons. The Florida offense really took off shortly after mid-season when Johnson stopped bouncing around and solidified the left guard spot. The fourth-year junior played in every game last season, starting eight of them including the SEC and BCS Championship Games.


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